Pyrrhic win?

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Rene Saguisag

Rene Saguisag

I am not unhappy that the Supreme Court did not include in its unanimous ruling last week the 1987-1992 Salonga-Gonzalez Senate, my Senate, in its reported directive to probe pork barrel use or abuse.

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This stance is not at variance or war with my theory that pork is not toxic per se. What I had helped concrete in our Barangay Palanan remains covered to this day. The ambulance I asked that the executive give to Pasig must be gone but the Cebu market and Cagayan library I helped put up may still be there(?).

Kahit isa pong singkong duling ’di po dumaan sa amin. Yet, “SC ruling a win for democracy?” Was it? So, who decides what’s to be done with public money, if not the elected lawmakers and chief executive? Not easy to convene a Million Marchers. Retired magistrates and generals? Columnists? All unelected. All nonaccountable.

The Constitution is a Document of Distrust. The Bill of Rights is a list addressed to the ruling class or those in power: Thou Shalt Nots. Here, real parties such as indigent scholars reportedly left twisting in the wind, were not heard. Who bothered? But hornbook doctrine requires that there must be an actual case involving proper parties to be disfavored.

Due process. A rough-and-ready sense of fairness.

The judiciary cannot sit in review of what the two other branches do as a super-legislature and super-executive. Lord Acton said power tends to corrupt but that absolute power corrupts absolutely. A tendency may be resisted (but Oscar Wilde said he could resist everything—except temptation).

The Supreme Court has always made it difficult for my students to obtain Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) data, stripped from the hides of litigants, for local benefit and infrastructure. Now we are told the same have been accessible on the Supreme Court website since a few months ago. But the requests of my studes would even be agendaed as part of the SC’s business. The sikyus could just have been told to tell my persnickety (ang kukulit!) studes to go to the nearest computer.

No decent courthouse
Like many lawyers I want to know how it could be that the nation’s capital has no decent courthouse. Go there and weep. And risk tetanus.

Makati has a nice courthouse but it is not yet Veep Jojobama’s time. It may be billionaire Manny Pacquiao’s, but he still has to prove his assertion. He has paid his taxes? Proof then? No one pays so much—humongous even—without asking for a receipt.

A fine account of the Rios fight I read in the New York Times. Definitely pro Manny. I found fascinating a vignette on how Rios could not show up for one fight: the gendarmes and constables were about to arrest him. Should convince any teacher, I would think.

Years from now, last week’s PDAF ruling may continue to be hailed as a great win for all of us. But, there may be a few students of the law such as I who see some kind of “Jesuitical jiu-jitsu” at work, and may continue to fret, and sigh like Pyrrhus, another victory such as this and we are undone.

Have we further damaged or strengthened our institutional arrangements weakened by the Marcoses and the Arroyos?

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4 Comments

  1. Hindi ko maintindihan ang article mo Rene. Bobo ako siguro. Pero si housekeeper Cory nagkamali at kayo ang pinagkatiwalaan nya. Ano ang maipagmamalaki nyong nagawa? Bumalik ang demokrasya kuno. Pero sinulo nyo ang karangalan. Anong nangyari sa ginawa ni DOY LAUREL? Anong infrastructure o buildings o mga bagay na pinakikinabangan ng mga tao ngayon na nagawa nyo? Maraming kurakot nga ng alipuris ni Marcos pero nakikinabang naman tayo sa mga nagawa ngayon. Eh kayo kurakot din pero walang concretong nagawa nyo(Cory group).

  2. Sir Rene ur kind of person is only one. Ur principles are of jurassic kind as far as the past 18 years of Presidency, Congress and Judiciary are concerned. The continuous road to perdition started in 1966 stops temporarily in 1986 to 1990 and then go ahead again at full speed up to now (2013). Pork Barrel and DAP as practiced should be stopped forever. COA and the Ombudsman should be financially autonomous like the Supreme Court who unfortunately is also spending its judiciary fund like pork barrel.

  3. Your job was to legislate not to partake in basic executive function. What is wrong with this pork barrel system is that not all senators or congressmen is a Saguisag.